Last Wednesday, our mornings were punctured by the news of yet another mass shooting underway, this time on the University of California-Los Angeles campus. Two members of our staff were on campus at the time. On that very same day, gun violence elsewhere in Los Angeles County claimed at least six more lives, and forever changed many more, though these deaths in neighborhoods just miles from the UCLA campus did not receive the same level of media attention.
All these events matter terribly. We’ve sadly come to expect this discrepancy in mainstream news coverage, which downplays the trauma faced by communities most impacted by violence, and the conditions that engender that violence. But this weekend, NBC Bay Area aired a remarkable segment that explored the widening gulf between the “two Oaklands,” one shaped by economic opportunity and the other by a lack of opportunity, and showed the implications of this divide when it comes to safety and resilience. Rather than viewing incidents of violence in isolation, this powerful piece of reporting examined the broader context of violence.
PI board member and partner in our violence and trauma work, Dr. Howard Pinderhughes, was interviewed for the segment, and elaborated on the community conditions that affect safety: “You have highly impacted poor communities, where businesses have left, where government has essentially pulled out, and where you’ve had large-scale public and private disinvestment …”
A few weeks ago, CPEHN wrapped up our fall convening series, A Blueprint for Health: Planning Communities that Promote Equity in Los Angeles and San Diego. Over 100 advocates, planners, and local governmental staff engaged the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) on the importance of including health and equity in the newly released draft statewide general plan guidelines. These convenings were space for community advocates to provide direct feedback and comments to OPR staff on how the plan guidelines can be incorporate localized community engagement strategies and fostering more equitable development.
Allison Allbee from our partner organization Changelab Solutions presented in both Los Angeles and San Diego about the context of how important the state’s general plan guidelines can be for local development and how communities can get involved in the process.
Dr. Elizabeth Baca from OPR also presented about what the new draft guidelines currently include. She especially focused on specific sections concerning public engagement, healthy communities and social equity. These chapters can be read by clicking on the links below.
This week, Southern California Public Radio (SCPR) had a terrific report on student hydration in California. The story highlighted one of the state’s more distressing inequities – the lack of access to and consumption of clean drinking water.
The report focuses primarily on schools in Los Angeles, but does reference a national study that found that more than half of all children and adolescents in the U.S. experience chronic dehydration. While rates are high across all races and ethnicities, they are particularly high among African Americans and Latinos. This is especially evident in LA’s public schools, where a majority of students are from communities of color.
The article has some good quotes from health advocates, including our friends at California Food Policy Advocates, on the challenges of increasing access to and consumption of clean water.
"When you look at water it’s zero calories but yet you need it to survive and to live a fruitful life," says Hector Gutierrez, a nutrition policy analyst who works on water access for the California Food Policy Advocates. "So we are trying to change the paradigm and make water the beverage of choice."
Experts say school is a natural target for efforts to make water more attractive, since kids spend so much of their time there. But there's a lot of work to do...
“A lot of these schools [in California] are very old and have old infrastructure," says Gutierrez. "The water might be hot, or the drinking fountain might be kind of decrepit."
Topic areas to be discussed include: a historic perspective on mental illness across cultural and social groups, substance use disorders, mental health and resiliency among veterans and military families, mental health and the justice system, and California’s new strategic plan to reduce mental health disparities. The agenda is comprised of interactive presentations, panel discussions, networking activities, a poster session, as well as an optional working group over the lunch hour.
The FREE symposium is jointly hosted by the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity, the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Kaiser Permanente, and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Breakfast, lunch, and parking will be provided. Expected attendees include leadership and staff of community-based organizations and local health departments, healthcare providers, faculty and students.
California Black Health Network (CBHN) launched Heroes in Health in 2012 in Los Angeles. The CBHN staff and Board of Directors wanted to recognize the many advocates, policymakers, community-based organizational leaders, and everyday citizens who work diligently to eliminate health disparities and to provide easier access to health services in the many African American communities around the state.
Heroes in Health tells the stories of those who are committed to the mission and vision of CBHN. The annual awards program has become an institution in this state. Whether it is someone who is our Lifetime Achievement Awardee and has given more than 25 years to this work, or an Advocate of the Year awardee who regularly challenges policy and lawmakers to “do the right thing,” this event recognizes people from a diverse universe of organizations, small companies, and large corporations. Heroes in Health is a key event that brings together leaders and citizens from a variety of backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultural experiences. Together, we all say thank you to those unsung heroes who are making a difference to the health of millions of California citizens every day!
This year’s event will be on October 29th at the Marina Del Rey Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles. There will be a reception at 5:30 pm with the awards dinner beginning at 7:00 pm. Early-bird registration ends on September 30th, so register today!
When I first began organizing as an undocumented student on campus at Cal State Fullerton, my biggest challenges was building up my skill-set so that I could effectively run campaigns on my own. When I attended my first training at the Social Justice Summit at Cal State Fullerton in 2006, I saw the power of joining a passion for justice with helpful tools and advocacy skills that move pro-immigrant policies.
Today, I find myself a more seasoned organizer, thanks in part to the help from training spaces like the Social Justice Summit. When I reflect on milestone fights, such as the hard-won AB 60 Driver’s License bill, the California TRUST Act, and others, I notice a connecting thread between those that made it possible. From the undocumented pre-med student activist to the community organizer, not only do we have a fierce passion for working towards a future where immigrant communities live brighter, healthier, safer lives, but we are also committed to developing supportive spaces that build a stronger and more inclusive movement.
Whether it is through up-to-date information, face time with allies, or sharing helpful strategies, it is critical that we be involved in spaces for knowledge exchange between advocates of diverse levels of experience and from different walks of life. This is why the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) has committed to creating such spaces through our biannual regional trainings.
The American Lung Association State of the Air 2015 report, released last week, showed that while progress has been made, California continues to have some of the worst air pollution in the country. In fact, 28 million Californians live in counties where ozone or particle pollution levels can make the air unhealthy to breathe. (Click on the map to enlarge.)
Covering air pollution data from 2011-2013, State of the Air 2015 shows that California cities still dominate lists for the most polluted areas in the nation for ozone (smog) as well as short-term and annual particle pollution (soot). Several cities had both higher year round averages and unhealthy days on average of particle pollution driven largely by drought weather conditions.
Specifically, of the top ten cities in the nation with the worst air pollution, California metropolitan areas rank as follows:
Our Focus on Equity: Communities of Color in Post-ACA California convening series continued today in Los Angeles, and we continued to hear more great discussion about behavioral health integration, Health for All efforts to expand health coverage regardless of immigration status, and ways to improve quality of care while considering equity measures.
The day began with a great presentation by Felicia Jones of Healthy African American Families and Dr. Michael Ong from UCLA about Community Partners in Care (CPIC). Jones and Ong described how CPIC was a partnership between community and academic partners to develop strategies to reduce the burden of depression in vulnerable communities, particularly South Los Angeles and Hollywood/Metro Los Angeles.
Here at Aspiration, we recognize that leveraging technology and online tools is part of the day-to-day work of community organizers and frontline activists. People on the ground, not software developers, are in the best position to choose and use tools in social change efforts. By extension, they often know what works and what doesn't.
In the spirit of sharing this first-hand knowledge between nonprofit and grassroots staff, Aspiration is organizing a series of participatory workshops in Los Angeles next month. Under the banner of our California Training Roadshow, we have two collaborative events scheduled:
Over 3.5 million Californians have enrolled in new coverage options since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), yet persistent health disparities remain among communities of color, immigrants, and Limited English Proficient populations. Join CPEHN and our partners for Focus on Equity: Communities of Color in a Post-ACA California, as we highlight opportunities to advance equity in 2015 and beyond. Topics will include:
Health for All: There will be updates on the progress of SB 4 (Lara), the Health for All Act, and we will feature why it’s necessary to ensure that all Californians can access health coverage, regardless of immigration status. There will also be information on how you can take action and have your voice be heard in support of SB 4 and other efforts to improve access to health coverage for immigrants across the state.
Integration of behavioral health in primary care: We will hear about why treating behavioral health and physical health in an integrated manner will help improve care in both fields.
The importance of equity in measuring the quality of health care: While the health care system approach to quality is focused on the “triple aim” of population health, patient experience, and costs, we will show why it’s necessary to include a fourth aim: equity.
Our convenings are interactive events that allow participants to participate in important health policy discussions. We’ll feature important policy proposals and how our communities can mobilize in support of them. We value the opportunity to travel throughout the state and hear different perspectives on all the critical health issues impacting California’s communities of color. It’d be great if you can join us and share your thoughts!